Forget the Manchester Derby, the real game of the weekend happens in Stoke.
Normally I like Tottenham. Being an FCapital writer pretty much forces that on me. That and, frankly, they’re Arsenal’s arch rivals and, as a Stoke fan, I really really dislike the gunners. So the enemy of my enemy is my friend, up until now.
Tottenham are set to make Stoke’s already poor season worse.
You may know me as the guy who trusted Roy Hodgson in the run up to euros, and normally my blind unwavering optimism at both club and international level follows me everywhere (I even bought tickets to watch stoke play Manchester city thinking we would win) but it’s time to face up to some inconvenient truths.
Here is why I’m worried.
Unlike previous encounters this season, namely City, this should be a close run game for the potters, I put this down to the new signings of Bony and Bruno Indi, but, whilst this will add to our game and especially our strength at either end, these fledgling potters are exactly that – brand spanking new. Spurs on the other hand have a solid team that has been drilled for years now. The Spine of Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Dier and Kane, just to name a few, have been working together regularly for the past few seasons. This cohesion and chemistry can’t be matched over the 10 days since deadline day.
Add on to that Tottenham’s much stronger start to the campaign, despite the odd upset, and there in relatively good form, unlike the opposition who have taken a point from 3 games. Let’s not talk about that any more. It upsets me.
Another thing pushing the three points toward North London is that Tottenham have their first team pretty much intact. Goalkeeper LLoris will surely give Spurs a boost going into the fixture, despite missing pacey full back Danny Rose. Stoke are not so lucky. One of my favourite talking points, Jack Butland, is again out for the fixture and quite a few following it, which give us a big problem as, although Shay Given has been a good replacement, he’s just not as good as the Number 1. Shaqiri is also a doubt for the weekend, which is a huge shame for me as he could probably have given us a way through a damaged defence with the lack of Rose.
Spurs fans have shown worry at Harry Kane’s lack of goals this season. Let’s face it it’s probably because Roy Hodgson butchered up his good form over the summer, but I wouldn’t worry too much about the talisman, a minor slump happens to all top players, and I’m very worried about him going up against a somewhat make-shift defence.
With all that being said, I still think this should be a close one, close enough to give me and my Tottenham supporting friends something to argue about for the foreseeable future.
By James Doherty.